A friend said something the other day that really struck a chord with me. We were riding the L train in Chicago and I mentioned how much I love the fresh feeling of fall, and how the season always feels like starting a new chapter in my life. She said that I was probably feeling that way because for the majority of our lives the feelings of fall were associated with starting a new school year. That certainly made sense to me. I always loved school growing up and come August I would eagerly look forward to the first day of a new school year. I loved picking out fresh notebooks and pencils at the office supply store and I definitely enjoyed agonizing over what I would wear on that first day back.
I was hit with a flash of melancholy as I realized that those feelings were never going to fully return. They were a memory of childhood and not easily found in adulthood. As a child, your year is dictated by the school schedule and anticipating those long breaks. I paid attention to the changing seasons as each one had its own excitement and promise of things to come. Fall was associated with sadness about the end of summer, but also filled with excitement for the new adventures that would come next. Winter was all about looking forward to that big break in December, a time of family, presents, and playing outside in the snow. In spring, you eagerly anticipated the long spring break where you could almost feel the beginnings of warmth and sun start to sweep in. And finally Summer, a time of freedom and days that seemed to last forever.
In a way, my life was never more attuned to the wheel of the year than as a child.
Now as an adult my work schedule is almost completely devoid of seasonal change. Work culture is driven by profit and only grudging tolerates seasonal holidays, and would gladly eradicate them if allowed. The lens through which work culture lives is one of quarterly earnings, not seasonal rhythm.
I think one of the things I really enjoy about Paganism is that it forces you to once again recognize the seasons. It encourages you to appreciate the unique changes as the wheel turns. Maybe that’s why when I started practicing, it felt in a way like coming home. It allowed me to feel all those excitements about the changing seasons that I once felt as a child.
As the leaves change and begin to fall, one of the best ways to reconnect yourself with this season is by going apple picking. I used to go apple picking with my family every year growing up. Though as I got older and moved away, it often became “too difficult” or “too far away” to fit in my busy schedule. This year when I finally made it to an orchard I was able to reconnect with all those amazing autumnal feelings I had as a child. As we left the city and ventured to the countryside it felt like I was able to momentarily leave my cares behind in the city and venture forth towards fresh air and mental clarity.
In the orchard I made a conscious effort to notice the colors of the trees, the smell of cider brewing, and the crunch of discarded apples beneath my feet. Taking time to notice the small details forced me to slow down and left me feeling refreshed and more connected to nature.
This little momentary escape from my daily city routine helped me remember that the seasons are here for us to enjoy and respect. And as I walked between the trees, each breath was a lovely memory of what it used to feel like being more connected to the changing seasons.
I hope this is just the beginning of my reconnection to the seasons and I look forward to the many new seasonal memories and connections I will create.